Breaking the Silence
[This page offers full-size photographs and quotations that appeared
at smaller size in the sidebars of Shared
Secrets Reveal Much Suffering in Silence, by Mary Zahn, Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel, March 26, 2006; and Staring
Abuse Straight in the Face, by Mary Zahn, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
March 27, 2006. See also the third article in this feature, Range
of Settlements for Victims Questioned, by Mary Zahn, Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel, March 27, 2006.]
|Giving voice to his anguish, Arthur Budzinski,
57, uses American Sign Language to tell of his abuse decades ago by
Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis.
Although Murphy died in 1998, his abuse continues to haunt Budzinski
and other men who have come forward with similar stories. Photo/Kristyna
|At their first Communion, students at
St. John's School for the Deaf received a rosary and catechism as
gifts from Murphy. Steve Geier, 55, of Madison, who holds the gifts,
came to St. John's at age 8. Photo/Contributed
You couldn't get out. It was like a prison.
I felt so confused. Here I had Father Murphy touching me. I would
be like, 'God, what's right?'
— Steve Geier
|Arthur Budzinski watches translator Mala
Boyce sign into a TV camera during a video conference at his West
Allis home with his friend Robert Bolger, who lives in California.
Bolger and Budzinski say they were abused by Father Lawrence Murphy
at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis. Photo above, Rick
Wood. Photo below, contributed.
never told anyone. I thought I was alone.
— James Smith
|Of the 11 boys on St. John's basketball
team (in this 1960s photo), at least five say they were victims of
sexual abuse by Father Murphy (left). Photo/Contributed
|St. John's School (the dormitory is shown)
opened in the 1800s and closed in 1983 because of financial reasons.
|At his West Allis home, Arthur Budzinski
holds a flier warning about Father Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998.
Robert Bolger, on the TV screen during a videoconference, took steps
in the 1970s to file complaints of sexual abuse against Murphy. The
priest denied the allegations and was never charged. Photo/Rick Wood
|Steve Geier, at his Madison home with
his wife, Ann, says he reported the sexual abuse by Father Murphy
to three priests on three occasions through the years. Two indicated
they did not believe him, and one told him to forget about it. Photo/Rick
|Gary Smith signs as he shares his story
of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's School for the Deaf.
Smith began having flashbacks about the abuse in his 20s and shared
his experience with former classmates. Photo/Kristyna Wentz-Graff
|Gary Smith (shown in the 1971 St. John's
yearbook) says he felt alone during the abuse. Photo/Contributed
|Father Murphy (center) accepts a check for $16,000 on behalf of
St. John's School for the Deaf from the Knights of Columbus in 1966.
Murphy, who was fluent in American Sign Language, was a tireless fund-raiser
for St. John's, where he worked from 1950 to 1974. By all accounts,
Murphy was much revered in the deaf community. Photo/File
Murphy was very sheepish during the meeting. He didn't say a word.
He just looked down.
— John Conway
We got the cold shoulder from some members
of the deaf community. There were factions. We were not together
— Robert Bolger
To report abuse by Catholic clergy:
Contact local civil authorities.
Call the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response
Services Office, (414) 769-3436.
For cases outside the archdiocese, call the independent mediation system,
For online information on where to go for counseling, go to: www.archmil.org
A charismatic priest and a painful secret
Decades later, victims come forward
About this Series
People in the deaf community were interviewed with the assistance of
Mala Boyce, 49, a certified interpreter fluent in American Sign Language,
who works in the Wisconsin and Illinois court systems. Boyce, whose parents
were both deaf, learned sign language as a child.
Most of the deaf people who were interviewed have access to a video relay
system, which allows deaf people to talk directly to one another, much
like video conferencing. A hearing person can use the system through a
video relay operator, who translates between English and American Sign
Language. Some interviews were done using this technology.
Interviews also were done via e-mail and through a TTY operator, a special
public telephone operator who places a call and translates.
Ruth Ward, a researcher in the Journal Sentinel's News Information Center,
also contributed to this report.